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Put Out More Flags

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Dedicated to Randolph Churchill, who found a service commission for Waugh during the Second World War, the story is set in the first year of the war. Chapter II. Basil goes to stay with his sister at Malfrey, where three delinquent evacuee children are forced onto them. Basil pretends to be a billeting officer and dumps the children onto a retired couple in their beautiful old home. When a few days later they are at their wits end, Basil charges the couple money to take the children elsewhere. of nerves, war of propaganda, war of defense in depth, war of movement, peoples’ war, total war, indivisible war, war infinite, war incomprehensible, war of essence without accidents or attributes, metaphysical war, war in time-

They were both silent, and in the silence Angela knew, by an intuition which defied any possible doubt, exactly what her maid was thinking. She was thinking, “Supposing Mr. Seal gets himself killed. Best thing really for all concerned.” The novel opens with Basil Seal’s sister, Barbara, trying to maintain a sense of normality in her two-hundred-year old country manor house. The servant class, on which her family’s privileged comforts have depended for generations, is melting away in the face of better employment prospects elsewhere. “Edith and Olive and me have talked it over and we want to go and make aeroplanes”. lure his dramatis personae into a Sunday school. But Evelyn Waugh has made a somewhat disconcerting discovery: his loafers and surrealists and “proletarian” poets no longer live on even as ghosts amid the detritus of Bloomsbury.

In 1924 Waugh left Oxford without taking his degree. After inglorious stints as a school teacher (he was dismissed for trying to seduce a school matron and/or inebriation), an apprentice cabinet maker and journalist, he wrote and had published his first novel, “Decline and Fall” in 1928. But the joys of Put Out More Flags do not reside entirely in its major characters, male and female, drawn at full length; for each of these, there are a dozen vignettes of people and places, sketched, it would seem, in a With Bertie hoping to control petrol in the Shetlands, with Algernon off to Syria on a secret mission, with poor John waiting for his commission, the whole thing sounds like a war for the very best people. And with the intellectuals prating

What were the “three rich women” thinking about? The following passages are revealing. First, an exchange between Basil’s sister Barbara Sothill and her husband Freddy, a serving officer: him. He begins to yell for blood. So, too, does Peter Pastmaster. And even Basil Seal actually joins up. Bums and ineffectuals, they all want to kill Germans. Which means, certainly, that Hitler is doomed. To them, the Spanish Civil War was “contemporary” and glorious, but when the same struggle reaches the Thames they manage to be living in New York. Poppet Green, the disciple of Dali, patronizes people who work for the Ministry


Dunkerque with a raging desire to become Commandos. Believe it or not, Alastair Trumpington though he was making a great contribution merely by training to defend the British coast. But as time wears on the mere waiting commences to bore For servants, the pay would be better working in a manufacturing industry, but they would also have more personal liberty and be free of the patronising and authoritarian discipline imposed by traditional upper-class employers. They would be free of the stifling deference required by the landed gentry who for generations had regarded themselves as superior beings.

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